New anti-corruption legislation in PortugalWritten by José Varanda
From next June 7, 2022, private, public and cooperative entities operating in Portugal will be obliged to comply with a set of specific measures predicted by a new legal regime called the General Regime for the Prevention of Corruption (RGPC). This new legal framework was established by the decree law 109-E/2021, from december 9, which aims to enforce the fight against corruption and related offenses in Portugal.
The above-mentioned legal diploma also created the National Anti-Corruption Mechanism (MENAC), an independent administrative legal entity governed by public law and powers of authority, endowed with administrative and financial autonomy, which has authority to issue guidelines and directives, supervise the fulfillment of duties and exercise the Government’s sanctioning power. In this new legal framework, it’s foreseen that the breach of stipulated duties may constitute a penalty that can go up to 44,891.81 euros.
In order to avoid this situation, as of June 7, entities are required to implement a Regulatory Compliance Program. Specifically, each entity must comply with an internal program that must respect, at a minimum, the following legal aspects:
- Prevention and Risk Plan (PPR);
- Code of Conduct;
- Whistleblowing Channel (regulated by Law No. 93/2021);
- Conducting Internal Training Programs for all employees and managers;
- Internal Assessment System.
In addition, this program must be implemented by a responsible person with independence and decision-making autonomy, under the position of Compliance Officer.
But, after all, which entities are subject to this new legal framework?
Under RGPC scope, are obliged to comply with these new rules all entities that meet the following legal requirements:
- Legal persons with headquarters in Portugal and branches in national territory, which employ 50 or more workers;
- Services and legal entities ruled by State’s direct and indirect administration, by autonomous regions, by local authorities and by State’s public business sector, with more than 50 workers (except municipalities with less than 10.000 inhabitants);
- Independent administrative bodies responsible for regulating private, public and cooperative sectors’ economic activity and the Bank of Portugal itself (albeit with some exceptions in Bank’s case).
Finally, it should be noted that, in case of non-compliance, the law also endorses accountability for administrative offenses on the management body holder or the entity manager, as well as the Compliance Officer, in addition to liability falling on the obligated entities.